Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Much has been made in AGW circles of the sea level forecast of Vermeer and Rahmstorf, in “Global sea level linked to global temperature” (V&R2009). Their estimate of forecast sea level rise was much larger than that of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (FAR). Their results have been hyped at places like RealClimate as being much more realistic than the IPCC estimates.
So I figured I’d see how Vermeer and Rahmstorf are faring to date. Their results for each of the IPCC “scenarios” are archived here, and the first thirty years of their estimates are presented along with nearly twenty years of actual observations in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Satellite-based sea level observations (blue line), along with the V&R2009 sea level estimates corresponding to the various IPCC future scenarios. Sea level observations from the University of Colorado. PHOTO SOURCE
So … how are the V&R2009 predictions holding up?
Well, … or to be accurate, not well. As you can see, the observations showed an actual sea level rise that is below the lowest of the V&R2009 estimates from the lowest of the IPCC scenarios.
At present, assuming that the distance between their “best” estimate and their “lower” estimate is two standard deviations, the data is now more than four standard deviations below the “best” V&R2009 estimate.
So in answer to how their forecasts are faring, the answer is … very poorly. Abysmally, in fact. Actual observations are lower by four standard deviations than the V&R2000 “best” estimate, and are two standard deviations lower than their “lower” estimate.
Technote 1 – The Colorado folks have recently included a 0.3mm/year increase in sea levels in their results. They say (possibly correctly) that this is necessary to adjust for the sinking of the ocean floor with the increasing weight of sea water from the melting at the end of the last ice age. However, since neither the IPCC nor the V&R2009 figures include that adjustment, I have not included it in this analysis so that we can compare apples to apples.
Technote 2 – I have aligned the Colorado observational results so that their trend line is zero in 1990, in order that they can be compared directly with the V&R2009 results, which have 1990=0 as their starting point. This also aligns the starting observations with the V&R2009 “best” estimate.
Technote 3 – some folks felt that my last post, “Yes, Virginia, there is an FOIA” was short on science content and long on passion … hey, what can I say, I’m a passionate guy. I trust this post will redress the balance in their estimation.
[UPDATE] Steven Mosher has graciously pointed me to a stunning disassembly of V&R2009, at the blog Climate Sanity. Makes my effort above look simplistic by comparison. He shows, among other things, that the V&R formula for sea level leads to ridiculous results when it is fed with actual data rather than IPCC scenarios … quite lethal to their claims. Well done, that man. – w.